Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine products: a possible cause for concern – the Polish perspective

Review Article, Pol J Public Health 2017;127(3): 130-133


Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Care, Faculty of Pharmacy with the Laboratory Medicine Division, Medical University of Warsaw, Poland

DOI_disc_logo 10.1515/pjph-2017-0028 

© 2017 Medical University of Lublin. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonComercial-No Derivs licence (


Introduction. The demand for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda have been increasing and there is great potential for complementary medicine development nowadays. However, there are some safety concerns in relation to these products and they hardly ever meet the European Union (EU) requirements for medicines. Moreover, there is no EU-wide legislation governing the regulation of complementary medicine practitioners. 

Aim. This study aimed to evaluate health risks of the Polish, as part of the European, society associated with the use of TCM and Ayurvedic products.

Material and methods. The number of web pages related to TCM and Ayurveda was assessed using popular Internet search engine Google. A questionnaire consisting of 8 close-ended questions was sent to the Polish pharmaceutical and sanitary structures. Chief Sanitary Inspectorate (CSI) in Poland, as well as EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) databases, were analysed.

Results. There are thousands of web pages offering TCM and Ayurvedic medicines on the Internet. However, only a few such products are registered for the Polish market, thus only a few are supervised. Between 2007 (Jan) and 2018 (Feb) only 0.8% and 0.4% of all food supplement notifications in Poland were related to products from China and India, respectively. Not supervised illegal TCM and Ayurvedic medicines are in 90% adulterated with undeclared substances.
Conclusions. TCM and Ayurvedic product irregularities may pose serious health risks to Polish consumers.

Keywords: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurveda, regulation, quality, safety.

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